Discolored tubmler barrel

Hi. We have had a vibrator tumbler for 9 years now. Lately, every
single batch of jewellery that we have put in, has come out yellowed
and coated in grease. So I have replaced the bowl, bought all brand
new shot, new hosing and new flow through buckets. Our old tumbler
barrel was badly discoloured when we took it off, and our shot has
been sent backt to Rio Grande to get it cleaned.

The bottom line is we are still getting “yellowed” jewllery out of
the tumbler. This has been going on for a month now and we are so
far behind and shipping out our work that I feel like tearing my hair

Someone on an email mentioned using “Dawn” dish soap instead of
burnishing compound. The problem is that in Canada, we can only
get"Dawn Ultra" and I thought that I saw an email saying not to use
"new Dawn" or “Dawn Ultra”. If there is anybody that can give me
some suggestions…I have cleaned and cleaned my new shot and bowl
and buckets, put buckets and buckets of water through…try to
change the water and burnishing compound every 6 hours and I don’t
know what else to do.

We have looked at what we are putting through the tumbler and it is
mostly sterling silver jewellery, sterling silver with hand made
glass beads and sterling and 14kt gold combination jewellery.

ANY advice would be appreciated. I’m feeling SO desparate. Thanks.

Trudy, If your shot is clean and your barrel is clean it can only be
that the soap is degrading the barrel.

Try adding ammonia to the soap. That worked for me. I also use
pharmaceutical grade green soap - you can get from most pharmacies.
(I hate to tell you this but it’s used as an old fashioned douche!)


If you have Stainless Steel shot try a can of coke, It has cleans
shot really good.

  ANY advice would be appreciated.  I'm feeling SO desparate. 
Thanks. Trudy 

The one other thing I notice you didn’t mention is your water. I
wonder whether there’s some slight impurity, some sulphur based
compound, perhaps, that could be tarnishing the silver. Some
municipal water supplies vary with seasonal changes, when the water
is from a surface watershed or reservoirs, rather than deep aquafer
wells. In that case, summer warm weather might require a city to
change treatments or additives to ensure safe water. I wonder
whether that coulf affect it, and whether using commercially bottled
water, or perhaps even distilled water, might eliminate the problem.
I bacame aware of this with my fish tank, noticing significant
differences in the ph, and the chlorine/chloramine levels in Seattle
water from winter to summer. Both the above are significant when
maintaining a fish tank. Perhaps is’t somehow also significant to
your tumbler. In addition to the safety additives, municipalities
may add alkaline additives to raise the ph in order to retard
corrosion. These too, might have some effect.

And I’d suggest that dish soaps may not be the best choices. many
handwash detergents have various skin moisurizers, and perhaps
disinfectants, etc, added, some of which might react with your metal.
I don’t know this for sure, it’s just a guess. But worth trying.

Also, I’d suggest not mixing different types of metal (gold with
silver) in the same batch. Sometimes you get some transfer from the
softer metal to the harder, or other such reactions.

I’m surprised you needed to send your shot to Rio for cleaning.
they’ll be happy to sell you some steel shot cleaner, which you run
in the barrel with just the shot, instead of burnishing soap. Cleans
it quite well. And I’d want to make sure your flow through system is
set up so as to be sure you’re not accidentally rinsing all your
burnishing compound or soap out of the charge with the flow through.
It should be set to instroduce not just water, but water with the
burnishing soap/compound, to maintain the level of compound in the
tubler. frankly, I’ve never found smaller tumblers to really nead a
flow through system all that badly, though they’re convenient. I
used to use an old but aggressive rotary tumbler with ordinary steel
shot and the standard powdered burnishing compound with both silver
and gold (one at a time). After running the needed time, upon
opening the tumbler, the water would now be a foaming grey to black
gunk well in need of a good rinsing. But the silver or gold would
be clean and bright.

Hope that helps.

 So I have replaced the bowl, bought all brand new shot, new
hosing and new flow through buckets..." 

Trudy- What about the pump? You might try opening it up and checking
to see if that is the cause of the discoloration.

-Tom Murray